The Boulder City Police Department is implementing an off-highway vehicle program to provide effective coverage for the desert areas around town.
According to Boulder City Police Chief Tim Shea, this program will focus on educating and informing the public on where the safe areas are as well as providing the ability to patrol.
He and the police department have been working on the program for more than a year and a half, and starting it was recently made possible through a $45,000 grant from the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“In short, we have some very good plans,” he said. “With this initial grant I believe we have a method for initiating the start of those plans — plans that I hope will facilitate a continuing active partnership with a number of agencies, to include the state, that will permit us to keep the program active and successful.”
Those plans include having training and informational rodeos, vehicle inspections and registration events, as well as providing signage about the nonrestricted areas in the desert, handouts and web-based information.
“This in an effort to provide a format that will assist folks in knowing what is allowed, appropriate, when and where,” Shea said. “This should result in less conflict with residents, less harmful impacts to the environment, safer riders and safer vehicles.”
He said that enforcement would be a last resort and only used for those who need “legal encouragement.”
The police department will not have to hire new officers for the OHV program; rather it will provide overtime hours for current officers and augment those with some reserves. The funds to pay the overtime will come from the grant, and the reserves are volunteer. The grant also will help pay for an off-highway vehicle.
City Council approved accepting the money from the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at its meeting March 13.
“Receiving the grant support is one facet of the program,” Shea said. “It provides the ‘kick-start’ to begin the process of equipping and training our personnel. That leads to deploying them on a rather regular basis to several venues and events all designed to reach our goal(s).”
According to city documents, the total cost of this project is $193,651 with Boulder City’s share at $148,651, and the state picking up $45,000 through the grant.
At the council meeting, City Councilman Kiernan McManus said that riding in the desert can be a lot of fun, but it can also cause some to be unkind to their neighbors.
“This sounds like a great opportunity. … It’s great we’re getting the opportunity to show people where they can have fun,” he said.
Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt also agreed the grant is a good opportunity for the city.
Shea estimates it will take the department through the end of the year to get the program up and running.
“Some facets will take a little longer as we develop our folks and determine just what we can do relative to our plans and available resources,” he said. “In addition, we may find that some ordinances are out-of-date and need to be updated to facilitate providing the ability for folks to utilize their OHV recreationally, while also meeting the expectations of our residents living along the open area borders.”
He also plans to partner with National Park Service rangers from Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Bureau of Land Management as well as other local entities.
Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at email@example.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.